Re-blogged from self-effacing humorous author-athlete @philgaimon (http://www.philthethrill.net/)
I’m not the first pro cyclist to get into yoga, but in honor of my friends at YOGO, I thought I’d share my experience. There were a couple years where I was living in Athens, Georgia, plugging away hard at racing, writing, and running a business, finding very marginal success at any of them. I started going to yoga classes in my offseason to reduce stress, relax, and focus. I also enjoyed it for the social aspect. I’d go with my friends, and get lunch or dinner after.
Every time I went to a class, I left feeling great, thinking “I should do this more often.” So I did. I found all sorts of Youtube videos and iPhone apps, and I set up a yoga corner in the garage for days I couldn’t make a class.
Yoga did help me relax and focus. After a session, I’d be more productive with my work or writing (I finished my book, “Pro Cycling on $10 a Day” that fall). It sounds silly, but I hadn’t even thought of yoga as something to improve my cycling performance (I thought it was just something that weird hippies did), but when training picked up as the season approached, I noticed that I was climbing better, and I was more stable on the bike, which translated to more efficiency. My massage therapist noticed big improvements in my flexibility and range of motion, and I won a few races that year.
Since then, I’ve incorporated yoga into my training regularly. A rest day from bike riding means a yoga day (and naps). I travel a lot. With my new YOGO mat, I can maintain my yoga routine on the road, and I no longer have to sit on filthy motel carpet when I stretch. I used to make fun of that guy at the airport with the yoga mat strapped to his bag. Now I know it’s nothing to be ashamed of, but I’m still glad the YOGO mat fits inside the suitcase.